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The adventures of the Mel

Return to Siena

ITALY | Saturday, 2 October 2010 | Views [529] | Comments [1]

So up bright and early to head into Siena. And when I say bright and early, what I really mean is wake up, roll over and get up when we bloody well feel like it.

We took the bus into the city centre (and got annoyed when we saw that it passed out the front of the supermarket). I couldn’t believe how many people there were. This was not the Siena that I remembered. The Siena I remembered was peaceful and had a lovely tranquillity to it. Not so now. I guess it doesn’t help that I visited six years ago and in the dead of winter. But still!!

There were just so many people that you couldn’t walk at the pace that you wanted, you had to meander along with the crowd. Granted many of these people were locals, but it was frustrating nonetheless. We first made our way to the main square, Piazza del Campo, which was massive. It is trapezoidal in shape and made up of 9 sections (to represent the nine sections of the old Council) and is littered with people sitting, walking and basking in the sun. We decided that basking probably wasn’t such a bad idea and sat down and enjoyed the midday sun. It’s okay – they have ozone.

The main square is (somewhat obviously) the centre of activity for the 55 000 strong city. The focal building of the square is the Palazzo Comunale (or Pubblico); the town hall. Its 102 m bell tower (Torre del Mangia) soars above the piazza, its red–brown facade commanding your sight as it contrasts with the amazing blue-coloured European sky. Centred and directly opposite the Palazzo is Fontana Gaia (the happy fountain), rectangular in shape and its facade actually fake – the original panels are severely weathered and now under protection. Restaurants and enoteche (wine bars) fill the remaining perimeter of the square. We posed for a photo with Octavius and continued to enjoy the sun.

From here we moved onto the gothic Duomo. There were thankfully fewer people crowded around here so we could appreciate the white, green and pink marbled building without feeling overwhelmed. We haven’t gone inside yet – we’re saving that for another couple of days when the entrance fee reduces from 6 euros to 3 euros. The ornate facade is really quite spectacular – it verges on (hell, it jumps into) tacky, but there is something about this building that captivates me. Not in the same sense as the Pantheon by any means, but I appreciate this cathedral more than most others.

Most of the rest of the afternoon we wandered around the city, taking photos of different fountains, knockers, and ooh! Icecream! One gelato store here had the most amazing display – check Tess’s photos for a shot of this. I was too busy drooling! It tasted as good as it looked, too. On the topic of fountains though Siena is broken up into 17 different parts which each have a different animal as their mascot – from a unicorn to a turtle to a caterpillar. We would have liked to have found each different fountain but we unfortunately only found a couple. It is these 17 different communities that take part in the annual festival Il Palio, where the main square is decked out with sand around its perimeter and a horse race is held. A horse doesn’t even have to have a rider on it to win – they are not out of the contest if their rider falls off, which is a little different.

We had a bit of a sit down for a while, getting tired of the ever present people and pretty much wanting to be home. It is a beautiful city, but the plethora of people really took it away from me this time. We wandered around a bit more, found a public toilet (and a very gracious person allowing me to change some money to use it), bought another book (I need to stop reading so damn quickly) and eventually made our way back home.

I would also like to announce that I made Tess dinner. That’s right, I cooked. Well, if you can call cooking pasta and mixing in sauce cooking. Which I do. So there. After dinner we had some wine, and then some more wine, and then some more....so we had a great time! Well, from what I remember anyway....

Siena photos.

 

Comments

1

I expect a feast next time you come home - my daughter, the chef.

  Peter Oct 6, 2010 6:21 PM

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